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DN Debate. The municipalities will not be able to welfare in the future

Sweden is one of the world's most decentralised countries, where municipalities are responsible for many of the welfare state's core areas, including primary and secondary education, elderly care and social services. It is therefore impossible to overestimate the municipalities ' socio-economic importance.

Unfortunately, the ability to cope välfärdsuppdraget significantly deteriorate in the near future. An ageing population means that the demand for care services is increasing, at the same time, fewer and fewer professionals must support an increasing number of people who do not work.

Get the search to teacher education, which, moreover, been strongly contested. To this, a high recipient, where many new arrivals are young, which puts additional pressure on the school. Already today both the school and the care of the elderly problems with recruiting staff. It will most likely not be easier in the long run.

Over half of the municipalities are expected to lose population over the next 20 years.

These challenges affect different types of municipalities in different ways. Growing municipalities have a favourable age composition of the population and a strong tax-paying ability. They need to invest, build out the municipal activities, the infrastructure and the housing stock in line with population growth. At the same time, they manage to integrate a growing number of immigrants.

the Shrinking of the municipalities at risk of missing out on economies of scale and find it difficult to recruit the staff required to ensure the welfare quality. Over half of the municipalities are expected to lose population over the next 20 years, subject to the latest long-term population projections were made prior to 2015. At the same time, there is a likvärdighetskrav in the local government sector, where small and shrinking municipalities have requirements to deliver about the same service as in the growing cities.

In the ”SNS Konjunkturrådsrapport 2019” we discuss the Swedish kommunmodellens the prerequisites to meet the challenges of the future. We identify four necessary changes:

The Swedish municipalities to provide welfare services in areas where the government has high ambitions regarding the quality and equivalency. In several areas, the state has therefore intervened with targeted funding from the government, formulated national objectives and designed an ambitious equalisation system. This means that local politicians sometimes neither has the strong driving forces or good conditions to manage the operations effectively.

Targeted government subsidies with the purpose to increase the staffing at risk, for example, to counter the teknikomställningar. Local government grants will also make it unclear to citizens who is really responsible for the municipal service does not work. We believe that the division of responsibilities between the state and the municipalities needs to be clarified. The state should therefore be very prudent with targeted state subsidies and instead allowing the municipal politicians responsible for the priorities within their own organisation.

that the voters should be able to punish those in power that have wasted resources, failed campaign promises, or benefited themselves at the expense of taxpayers, there must be good conditions to be able to demand accountability. We believe that this lack today. For example, the informal rules of the game emerged in the kommunpolitiken and local majoritetskoalitioner has become increasingly complex.

The fact that both the majority and the opposition are represented in the municipal council and the councils obscures also responsibilities. Political accountability in municipalities need to be strengthened. Separate elections to the parliament and the city council could be one way to achieve this. Such a reform makes clear what are the local election issues are and increases the likelihood that voters hold local politicians accountable.

Separate elections may lead to reduced turnout. Why should a government investigation once again reviewing the proposal thoroughly before it is tested. In addition, we believe that an attempt by the municipal parliamentarianism should be implemented, that is to say, a majority rule in the municipalities instead of the current order with the city councils in which all the parties included. Such a reform can make it easier for voters to perceive the local political divisions.

If no changes are implemented, the need for income and kostnadsutjämningsbidrag to the shrinking rural municipalities to increase further, something that in the long run can do to the lose of legitimacy. A high level of grant funding is likely to hamper efforts to increase efficiency and political accountability.

the Hope that innovative local growth policies to resolve the problems is naive. There is no evidence that investments in marketing through, for example, resources to the so-called flagship projects or the sponsorship of elite teams is worthwhile. Nor is it likely that kommunsammanläggningar leads to savings for glesbygdskommuner – the distances are often too great.

The democratic costs risk to be high. We believe that an asymmetric model should be considered. In such a model is passed, the responsibility for well-defined areas of small municipalities with lack of capacity to the state, region or larger neighbouring communities. You can then keep the neighborhood and the local anchoring of the responsibilities remain with the municipalities, while at the same time taking advantage of economies of scale in governance and administration on the responsibilities that moves.

The current kommunutredningen should clearly identify the areas that can be lifted from the municipalities and transferred to what level. An obvious candidate is the school.

During the next two decades, the 1940s in the high fertility rates that lead to municipal spending grows faster than revenue. Sweden's municipalities and county councils and their latest Ekonomirapport warns of a deficit in the local government sector (including county councils) the equivalent of 43 billion already in the year 2022.

In the long term, improved health and extended working life counteract the cost pressures of an ageing population. But in the next two decades there is a growing need so quickly that it needed additional ways to strengthen the welfare funding.

One proposal is to encourage local governments to interact more within the welfare service areas. Other possible avenues that we propose is a higher property tax, increased taxes and more freedom for local governments to charge fees in, for example, pre-school and elderly care. In addition, the municipal operations more efficient, for example by starting to use digital and technological tools to a greater extent.

to improve the efficiency of their operations, and on a new government to implement the reforms needed to secure future welfare.

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